Extreme Writing Challenge #51: “Options”

I’m going to mix things up a bit and tell you what today’s challenge is before you read the story.  Why?  Eh, why not?  Sometimes you’ve got to shake things up…keeps life interesting.

In this piece, the third word of every sentence is exactly three letters long, and is not used as the third word of every sentence more than once.

And this challenge was a headache.  I won’t sugarcoat it.  It seemed so simple.  I was so very wrong.

So I hope you enjoy.  🙂


In my new Armani suit, I was a caviar-eating, country club-loving, self-centered sonofabitch. All I had to do was drop a couple G’s and suddenly I was someone important. Elegance wasn’t the kind of life I was used to. No, a guy like me thinks he’s being fancy when he drinks beer out of a glass.

For a few days I was that bastard I always envied. There I was, eating hundred-dollar plates of food with 92 pieces of silverware and European linen napkins. At home, Sue was cooking Top Ramen and watching the news on the tube TV that only got one channel. That was our life—my real life.

It was all a big scheme. I planned for months, down to the nitty-gritty detail. I had one shot and I sure as hell couldn’t blow it. Once I met Don Adinolfi in person, I needed everything to fall right into place like that Tetris shit Sue’s always playing.

I had Don fooled from the first handshake, but that was only the beginning. Everything I did from that moment on was crucial with a capital C. Every head nod, every phony grin, every big word I memorized out of the dictionary. When we sat down to talk business, my heart was punching the inside of my chest. You know how your blood kind of tingles just before you ride a giant roller coaster or after you barely miss a horrible car crash? That’s a bit like how it feels to be a con man.

I put gel in my hair. My only tie spent more time around my neck in three days than it had in five years. I actually got a damn manicure to get the chunks of dirt from under my nails. Men don’t get manicures. So now you know, this was some real dedication.

I wasn’t out to get anybody. It wasn’t bad, what I was doing. It was die or steal. Sometimes those are a poor man’s only options.  I can say I chose the right one.

In my old, frayed jeans and a thrift store T-shirt from some 5K in 1999, I study my reflection in the mirror.  I am not the man I’m staring at–not anymore.  Then I bid farewell to my past life, and I slip out of my clothes and throw them in the trash.


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